Saturday, April 27, 2019

"When [the new head of Sun-Maid] came west, though, he was taken aback by the level of animosity he encountered in the U.S. raisin industry"

NYT:

Three months into his tenure, which began on Halloween of 2017, Mr. Overly attended a meeting of some raisin industry players in the back room of a restaurant in Fresno, Calif. This introduction left him shaken. “I’m not saying this lightly, because — you can read about this in different spots — people kind of think there’s this raisin mafia out there and that kind of stuff,” Mr. Overly said.

He said that he asked the group how they thought they could work together. “And the answer I got back was nothing short of collusion,” he said. While no one was proposing they take action, the anti-competitive tactics discussed in that back room, he said, were “completely illegal.”

As he tried to make changes in the raisin industry and at his own company, Mr. Overly said he faced intimidation, harassing phone calls and multiple death threats. With his spouse in the last trimester of a pregnancy, Mr. Overly found a note shoved into a crack of his front door that warned: “you can’t run.”

Mr. Overly installed a security system at his house in Fresno. At Sun-Maid headquarters, he and other executives discussed the necessity of active shooter trainings. As rumors about Mr. Overly’s motives swirled among raisin farmers, raisin packers and raisin bureaucrats, he became increasingly concerned about the safety of the raisins themselves. He feared that the current crop, drying from grapes to a wrinkly, shrunken state in bins on the Sun-Maid campus, would be set ablaze. It was their destruction by “fire, specifically,” that worried him, he said.
Related:
PepsiCo has offered to settle its lawsuit against four Indian farmers who grew the patented potato variety used in its Lays chips without the company’s permission.

...

The company offered to drop the lawsuit if the farmers become part of its collaborative potato farming program. The farmers would have to buy seeds and sell the produce back to the company at predetermined prices.

“In case they do not wish to join this program, they can simply sign an agreement and grow other available varieties of potatoes.” PepsiCo said.